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Monday, September 22 2014 @ 05:17 PM CDT

Spain: CGT is now the third biggest union

News ArchiveSubmitted by Stirner:

[Alternative Libertaire, nov. 2004]

For years it was already true on the ground. The General Labor Confederation (CGT, anarcho-syndicalist) could be considered as the third Spanish labor organisation, behind the two big union centrals, the Worker's Commissions (CC-OO) and the General Union of Labor (UGT). Now, at the end of the union election process in the private and public sector, it can truly be said, and the numbers prove it, that the CGT is consolidating its position as the third most "representative" of Spain's workers.

With over 5,000 shop stewards (3,639 elected to industrial committees and 1,400 elected as official union delegates), representatives in more than 1,600 companies and a field of action that directly reaches over 2 million workers, we can measure the work done in the 25 years since the crisis in Spanish anarcho-syndicalism that split the CNT.

Let us examine the details. Over one million workers voted for the CGT during the last elections to industrial committees. To this number must be added the 600,000 workers that the CGT represents in collective bargaining and the 300,000 in the smaller subcontracting shops. A total of two million people, or 15.4% of Spain's 13 million workers. There are on average 560 workers in the shops where the CGT is active and the average number of CGT elected officials is 2.5 by shop.

Here's for the numbers. In the private sector, the CGT is biggest in banks, the metallurgy sector, communications and cleaning services. In the public sector, they are most active in the RENFE (railways), Post Office, in the cities and regional television. While it still has a modest number of actual members (around 60,000) in comparison with the membership of the CC-OO (communist) and UGT (socialist) which each have between 700,000 and 800,000 members, the CGT is no longer simply a token presence. It is a force which is able to lead local struggles but also important sectorial struggles, something which has been the case for many years in sectors of the over-exploited and precarious workforce such as the call centers, for example. While the UGT and CC-OO have over the years had a strong policy of class collaboration, on the ground they often have to opt for an opposite position to avoid seeing entire sections passing over to the CGT, which is not unknown after a strike or collective bargaining on wages, hours or conditions in a company. Active in companies through its union sections, the CGT also intervenes in other fields as well, thanks to its social action groups and committees on various issues (anti-militarism, women, young people, Chiapas, ecology).

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Spain: CGT is now the third biggest union | 7 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
comment by el amigo de pueblo
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, January 07 2005 @ 11:34 AM CST
this is quite impressive.

what is NEFAC\'s position(s) on unions and syndicalism? NEFAC has an orientation towards the the working classes. but what is NEFAC\'s position on the unions? does NEFAC seek to create independent workers organizations like CGT? or does NEAFC see involvement in current unions with the attitude of having them eventually taken over by the rank and file and transformed into more libertarian structures?

what should the strategies of class struggle anarchists be here in North America?
comment by MaRK
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, January 07 2005 @ 11:58 AM CST
We have a pretty lengthy position paper on struggle in the workplace. Unfortunately, it is literally lost in translation (it still needs to be refined and ratified by our Francophone section). But soon.

I would say, unofficially, our very basic position is that in light of how labor is currently organized in North America, class struggle anarchists need a multi-level strategy in the workplace:

- We do not think mainstream, reformist unions should be abandoned by anarchists, but rather we should seek to develop militant and democratic rank-and-file tendencies within them, challenge timid buearucratic leadership, and popularize anarchist methods of organizing wherever possible.

- Alternative, syndicalist unions should be supported where they exist, however we should not limit ourselves exclusively to this particular form of workplace organization.

- Most importantly, decentralized networks (flying squads, base unions, workers\' centers, whatever) should be established and developed as a means for building solidarity between unionized and non-unionized workers, between sectors, in defense of precarious and non-status workers, etc.
comment by MaRK
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, January 07 2005 @ 12:06 PM CST
Forgot to mention that we also maintain international relations with anarcho-syndicalist unions like CGT, SAC, etc. through our involvement with the International Libertarian Solidarity network: http://www.ils-sil.org
comment by Irving da Naile
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, January 07 2005 @ 12:27 PM CST
Participation in the enterprise committees has split the anarcho-syndicalist movement in Spain for the past 20 years.

The CGT is the result of a series of splits in the historic CNT (National Confederation of Labor) between 1979 and 1984, precisely over the question of participation in the union elections.

Both CNT and CGT agree that the works committees were set up by the Spanish State and reformist unions to integrate the Spanish labor movement into the process of democratizing the Spanish State and creating labor peace.

However, while the CNT rejects working within these committees because of this analysis, the CGT believes that the union elections can be used to reach workers and stave off self-marginalization. Whereas the CGT has undoubtedly gained the right, through elections, to \"represent\" workers in disputes with the employers, the CNT, which is much smaller than CGT, rejects the notion of \"representation\", opting instead for direct democracy in the form of the workers assemblies.

Relations between the CNT and CGT (and a third anarcho-syndicalist organization, Solidaridad Obrera, which split from CGT a few years ago, are very often strained because of their differences but they do manage to collaborate from time to time.
comment by Bostonian
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, January 07 2005 @ 04:58 PM CST
Also notably, Solidaridad Obrero recently put out a call for the three groups to form a collaborative body of some sort, pointing out that regardless of the difference in tactics, a united anarcho-syndicalist front in Spain would have a wicked lotta power. (Someone with better Spanish than me should translate that and submit it to infoshop; it\'s a pretty powerful proposal.)
comment by Anarcho trapped in Canada
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, January 07 2005 @ 05:47 PM CST
I don\'t know how labour law works in Spain, but in Canada unions only exist as legal entities whose organizational structure is programmed and restricted by the capitalist state. The union structure itself is very similar to the structure of a corporation or a political party.

In British Columbia, Canada, for instance, several unions collaborated with each other and the neo-Liberal government in power to crush a movement of wildcat strikes. The unions were trying to avoid fines and sanctions and to end a strike that had become \"illegal\" because of the actions of the workers. The deal struck by the unions and the government enforced massive wage cuts and lay-offs.

How do anarchists in groups like NEFAC, etc. see working within such organizations as useful, as opposed to working with rank-and-file workers outside of the union structure itself?

comment by @
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, January 07 2005 @ 06:09 PM CST
this is a good piece about wrokplace struggles by the anarchist federation in the UK

workplace resistance groups\"

\"Whether unionized or non-unionized, the idea of resistance groups in your workplace may seem a long way from reality (especially in the current social climate), but this is a goal we need to be moving towards. Obviously, if such a thing is unrealistic where you work and would only quickly get you sacked then it would be silly to advocate it (unless you don